My dear friend, what are the defining traits of feminism? Some may say empowerment, others radical compassion, and still more that it’s a social movement originating from humble origins. All of these opinions are of course true, and it’s important to note that feminism is not defined by any one characteristic, but rather, it’s objective. Full disclaimer, I am a feminist myself.
So what if I told you that one of feminism’s greatest accomplishments was the objective portrayal of men in popular media? That’s right ladies, let’s dehumanize hunks. The term chad is in popular circulation right now, but it’s crucial that we take a closer, more in-depth look into the history of the caricaturization of powerful male figures. Think about it, the strong man was almost always the protagonist, and then there was an equally strong man as his antagonist. Leading ladies were romantic interests with no prerogative of their own.
Kronk, a beloved character in a long forgotten Disney film, The Emperors New Groove, is no such protagonist. In fact, he’s a side character – and a clumsy, thick-headed one at that. And Kronk works for a woman, a smart one. Yzma is Kronk’s boss and although she has her moments, Kronk respects her and does her biding. Who cares if they’re technically the villains? The protagonist was a whiny brat and deserved what was coming to him anyways.
Remember what I said about radical compassion? Kronk’s most admired traits are his empathetic actions towards animals. There’s no slaying dragons or hunting in this story. Oh no, Kronk wouldn’t have it. Instead of your standard Disney princess chirping away at her tiny animal friends, we have this big hunk tickling his tiny squirrel buddies and feeding what he thinks is a homeless llama. That’s compassion. That’s turning gender typical tropes on their head.
Yeah, okay, maybe Kronk isn’t a perfect character, and he’s definitely become a meme in recent years. (Who doesn’t love a good Kronk meme though?) He even got his own follow-up sequel as the starring role. But what makes Kronk a feminist icon is not necessarily who he is as a character, rather its what he is as a plot point. The Emperor’s New Groove is a Disney film about weak, dumb men being usurped by powerful women and then not knowing what to do with themselves. Kind of like what you’d see happening at a #metoo rally.
Kronk is an ally, okay? He respects Yzma. He cares for little animals. He’s a handsome, strong man but he’s not chasing down women just because he can.
Deal with it, Kuzco.